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Finnish government seeks to assist the Caribbean to respond to natural disasters

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Contact: Shannon Lebourne


Thursday, December 1, 2011 – With climate change posing threats to the global community every day, Saint Lucia and other countries in the region are taking steps to enhance disaster response and management.


One day after the Atlantic Hurricane Season closed, officials of numerous response agencies gathered to assess their capacities to respond to multi-hazard early warning systems like flash floods.


Director of the Saint Lucia meteorological Service, Mr Thomas Auguste says, the meeting focused importantly on disaster risk reduction.


“What we have realised over the past couple of decades is that we are  being severely impacted by hydro-meteorological hazards like flooding and landslides. Given the frequency and severity of these hazards, the Finnish government has kindly decided to fund some projects in the Caribbean aimed at strengthening the capacity of hydro-meteorological services to respond to those hazards.”


Thursday's gathering of the response agencies provided an opportunity to assess what systems are in place and the level of interaction and cooperation among the various agencies.


Representative of the Finnish Meteorological Institute, Martti Heikinheimo, says Small Island States like Saint Lucia will benefit from support from the Finnish government which has committed one million euros for projects to strengthen the capacity of hydro- meteorological services.


“We are trying to prioritise the needs for capacity building and think of the tools and methods we have in Finland that we can provide to undertake capacity building here in the region.”


It is the hope that with assistance to strengthen Hydro-meteorological operations and services, response agencies and disaster managers in the Caribbean will have greater cooperation in order to mitigate the levels of devastation.

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